Category Archives: test

GRE Scores

When I took my GRE general test I blogged about it immediately that night. I was excited, and I had done well, and even if I hadn’t gotten back my essay results my multiple choice was better than I could have expected. Then my essay scores came weeks later. I was in the 99th percentile on everything.

When I took my GRE subject test I never blogged about it. I had nothing to blog about. I took the test, and nothing was given back. I had to wait. I knew I did well, but what was I going to say? I took the test. Did well. That is more of a twitter update than a blog post. But how well? And more importantly, how did I rank against everyone else?

I got my results back about a week ago. I didn’t blog about it. According to everyone I did exceptionally well. All I felt was disappointment. My friend had been asking me about my scores for weeks, and I kept replying that she will be the first to hear once I knew anything. As I messaged her at 3:30 in the morning after opening my email and finding my scores, I sent her one line. “710. 95th.” She knew what it was, so no explanation was needed.

Several hours later (when normal people wake up), she sent back congratulatory messages peppered with exclamation points.

Yes, I know it is a good score. In fact, considering how I felt the day of the test, this too was a better score than I had expected. But not as good as I had hoped. I had studied so hard, read dozens of books in less than two months, looked up even more summaries and outlines of everything I didn’t quite remember. I even watched movies. I gave it everything I had. 95th percentile is apparently all I had.

Instead of feeling proud joy, I felt like crying.

When I took the exam a lot was going on in my life. Perhaps more than I could feasibly handle, but to use that as an excuse is just a cop out. I screwed it up. I had one chance, and I didn’t do what I was supposed to. But I don’t know what that is. I don’t know what else I could have done except click some magical pause button on everything else and focus solely on the exam. Or maybe I am just dumb. This too is a possibility.

At least I have my GPA to fall back on, which, despite being good, is also not perfect. At two points during my MA I got a B+ and an A-. The B+ I will accept. We had a difference of opinion, and that is what I get. The A- makes me bitter.

In case you are wondering, I am terrible at formatting lists, including lists of works I have consulted, used, read, or otherwise thought about. And when taking a course entirely dedicated to making such lists, well, the A- is practically a miracle. I acknowledge my poor list making abilities. And others will be quick to point it out. Read anything I have written academically, flip to the back to the bibliography and the proof is right there. I can’t make lists.

It is not really the A- I am bitter about, but rather the entire student aspect of academia. I know several people with a 4.0, and I try not to think about it because it makes me angry. They don’t do hardly any reading, write their papers the night before, do minimal research, turn it in full of typos, but manage to get A’s. They reiterate the same topics/points that have been written for decades, because you can’t go wrong with something that has already been proven and accepted, and that is completely acceptable. Yeah, that irks me.

I can’t make lists, and I can’t write papers that are nothing more than glorified book reports. And when I write something so outlandish it could never be proven, along with my bad grade I would like an explanation of where I went wrong.

Speaking of which, I would like to know what questions I got wrong on the day of the exam. It would be easy to say it was all the ones in the topics I am unfamiliar with, but no. I panicked and I am sure I missed several that I probably should have known, may have at one point known, but didn’t know when I needed to.

There were two long passages, six questions a piece, and I left all of it blank. I didn’t recognize the passages, had no idea who wrote them, and couldn’t tell you a thing about either. I looked them up later and they were by Richard Wright and James Baldwin.

There was another long passage, five questions, and I also left it blank. I didn’t have to look it up. As I was driving home I realized I was reading Percy Shelley. This is what I mean when I say I should have known, did know, but not at the right moment.

Those are all the ones I left blank, but I am sure I got random ones wrong along the way to justify my above average, but not quite wonderful score.

I really hope UCLA likes above average, but not quite great, because that seems to be all I have for them.

Better Than I Expected

I just got home from taking the GRE. The two essay sections have not yet been graded (obviously), but I received my scores for the multiple choice sections immediately. I don’t know what it means percentile wise since I don’t have a complete score, and the percentile is calculated in terms of how other people did, but I scored far better than I expected, or could have hoped for.

Out of the eighty questions I got five wrong. Two on the verbal, and three on the math.

Unlike on my practice tests, I don’t get to see which ones I got wrong. I wish I did solely for my own curiosity. Were those the questions I had some trouble with and that took me forever to solve? Or were there other, deceptively easy questions that I misjudged? Did I get the same kind of questions wrong on the actual exam that I was getting wrong on the practice tests?

Yes, I know none of this matters. But still.

Once the test ended I figured out which one was the experimental section. I thought it might have been, but I wasn’t about to anger the GRE and not try my hardest on it anyway. And who knows, maybe I am wrong. They don’t actually tell you, but considering the score I got, the experimental section must have been the math one in the middle that made absolutely no sense. If it had been a real section my quantitative score would have been far lower. Like so much far lower I would have dove into negative points. “What did you get on the GRE?” “Negative five.” “What??”

I don’t have to do this anymore. Oh my God. I don’t have to do this anymore!

Now I can really start studying for the fun GRE. Not that any part of the GRE is fun, but at least the subject test will be about things I am more or less interested in. Not that I am not incredibly interested in trigonometry, but literature is kind of my thing. Sometimes.

With my luck, I will have to read eighty thousand post colonial novels.


Chasing the Carrot

I am taking the GRE in less than two weeks, and I feel like a rabbit on a treadmill chasing a carrot. No matter how many practice tests I take, I can’t seem to get a perfect score. Close, but no carrot. Even when I get a 100 percent on one section I will miss a couple in the following section. I blame the adaptive nature of the test since it became computerized. Oh, so you got 100 percent? Here, let’s give you a harder section next time. Damn.

Honestly I don’t even know what my strong points are anymore. I am getting the same scores for math and English. The only constant seems to be that I am terrible with probability, and I seem to be weak at those fill in the blank questions where you are supposed to pick two answers. I almost always get one of the two right. Except you get no partial credit, so having half an idea isn’t good enough.
I am probably going to take at least half a dozen more practice tests between now and test day, but somehow I don’t think I am going to improve to perfection by then. Actually I am very sure of it. In fact I am pretty sure that even if I took a full dozen practice tests by then it still won’t do that much good.
Apparently I am doing a lot better than a lot of other people so at this point I guess I will just keep doing what I am doing. And maybe stop waking up at three in the morning to do practice tests. Like clock work. Every night. The clock strikes three and I wake up, half awake, fully alert, going for my laptop.
They say it is best to take practice tests under the same conditions and in the similar state of mind as when you will be taking the actual exam. Sure, I will just quit my job and stay home to take practice tests at noon every day during a self induced panic attack. Sounds about right.
On the bright side, I can’t get any worse. Right??